Sports & Recreation

  • Best Secret Garden

    Idylwilde Park

    Residents of the 40-plus houses in the square formed at Weldon Avenue and Fairmount between 11th and 12th streets in Phoenix are hiding a secret. The subdivision, which opened in 1928, includes a three-acre private park in the square of land concealed by properties. The park originally housed a golf course, artisan well, tennis court, fireplaces, and a swimming pool… More >>
  • Best Hidden Spot to Touch History

    South Mountain Park

    Sitting in a Valley watering hole sipping a few cold ones, it's hard to imagine that human beings not so different from us were here, doing things, hoping for things, dreaming of things long before we were ever around. Occasionally, we must stare history in the face to recognize how far we've come and, perhaps, realize how far we have… More >>
  • Best Not-So-Secret Garden

    Secret Garden at Arizona State University

    Long before urban scavenger hunts and geo-caching became popular, ASU had a built-in mystery search that was a rite of passage for coeds. In its early years, the location of the college's secret garden often remained a mystery until a student accidentally stumbled upon it while looking for a quiet place to study. But with the rumor-mill- slash-verbal-diarrhea-inducer that is… More >>
  • Best Little Mountain

    "A" Mountain, Tempe

    Whether you call it Hayden Butte, Tempe Butte, or "A" Mountain — all valid names, as far as we could tell from our research — this rock pile is sweet for the feet. If you live in Tempe or south Scottsdale, this is the closest you can to an experience that's in the same ballpark as Camelback Mountain or Piestewa… More >>
  • Best Summer Jog

    Parking garage southwest of Sun Angel Stadium

    When the gates are open and there are no athletic events, we're among the members of the public who enjoy the free use of the Joe Selleh Track and bleachers of Sun Angel Stadium for a high-intensity workout. When that summer sun is high enough to fry the back of our neck, though, we also occasionally move part of that… More >>
  • Best Place to Dig Dinosaurs

    Arizona Museum of Natural History

    This place is not the American Museum of Natural History — let's get that out of the way up front. Night at the Museum Part Whatever ain't gonna be filmed anywhere in Mesa. But for locals craving a quick trip to the Cretaceous and other dino-filled periods, the Arizona MNH simply roars. In "Dinosaur Hall," the skulls of triceratops' relatives… More >>
  • Best Ruins

    Willow Spring Trail

    There's something exciting about coming across the remnants of a human settlement while on a long hike through an otherwise barren landscape. Who lived here? Why this spot? Where'd they go? How the hell did they get up all that stuff up here? In the case of the abandoned ranch just off the Willow Springs Trail through the White Tank… More >>
  • Best Easy Trail Running

    Pima Canyon, South Mountain

    Our knees just aren't what they used to be, but we still love the freedom and beauty of running on a surface that wasn't created by a steamroller. When we're not in the mood for the demanding ups and downs of some of the local single-track trails in desert parks, the dirt road leading west from the parking lot of… More >>
  • Best Mine Tour


    We'll admit — Goldfield isn't for everyone. But if you are the type of person who loves a little kitsch, then you might find a place in your heart for the campy town of Goldfield. According to our tour guide, the tourist trap was once a booming mining town — until one of the most productive mines in the West… More >>
  • Best Place to Find an Underground Bike Race

    AZ Fixed

    For most folks, an alley cat is that annoying feline that roots through your garbage and causes endless caterwauling at all hours of the night. For local cyclists or riders of fixed-gear two-wheelers, however, alley cats are under-the-radar urban bike races that are ultra-competitive and ultra-fun. Best described as a cycling scavenger hunt, alley cat races feature riders zipping around… More >>
  • Best Cave

    Phoenix Bat Cave

    Beginning each spring and continuing until the temperatures really start to climb in the summer, thousands of bats migrate to the so-called "Phoenix Bat Cave" near the Arizona Biltmore. The "cave" is actually a Maricopa County Flood Control ditch, but it has the proper temperatures and protection for these tiny flying creatures. During bat season, visitors to the cave (which… More >>
  • Best Hiking Trail

    Camelback Mountain's Cholla Trail

    It's easy to see why Camelback Mountain has some of the most popular trails in the Valley, as the top of the red sandstone "hump" provides an unparalleled view of Phoenix. Most people are familiar with the Echo Canyon trail, but we like the slightly easier Cholla Trail. We say slightly easier because while you'll still end up sweating like… More >>
  • Best Thing to Do By the Light of the Silvery Moon

    McDowell Mountain Ranch Longboard Rides

    Imagine surfing, but picture doing it downhill on a hard, smooth surface at speeds up to 55 miles per hour. In the dark. With a bunch of other people flying down the hill around you. In a nutshell, that's downhill longboarding in the Valley, where rides and timed races take place every month during the full moon at McDowell Mountain… More >>
  • Best Hike Through the Heart of the City

    Christiansen Trail #100 to North Mountain Park

    Phoenix's city park system is one of the largest and best in the world, and the Christiansen Trail gives a nice crash course on what it has to offer. This marathon 10.7-mile trail stretches the width of the Phoenix Mountains Preserve, from Tatum Boulevard on the east to Seventh Avenue on the west. You'll traverse much of the city on… More >>
  • Best Hike in Immigrant-Smuggling Territory

    Table Top Mountain Wilderness

    Until a couple of years ago, online trip reports about the two main trails cutting through the 34,400-acre Table Top Mountain Wilderness area detailed nothing but the pleasures of hiking in the rugged, cactus-filled terrain located 20 miles or so south of Maricopa. These days, it's more common to hear warnings about the federal preserve. "I'd be very careful," a… More >>
  • Best Place for Info on Arizona Caves and Caving

    Arizona Cave Survey

    There are more than 1,600 documented caves in Arizona, and much of that documentation has come from Arizona Cave Survey, a group of caving enthusiasts who've built up an impressive library and database on the subject. The library consists of books, maps, photos, and even a cave location GIS system, making it an incredible resource for cave researchers. From Lava… More >>
  • Best Hike to See the Sonoran Desert

    Spring Valley Trail, Hells Canyon Wilderness

    Despite the hellacious name of this wilderness area just north of Lake Pleasant, the Spring Valley Trail is a kid-friendly hike, according to some Internet guides. We found it well defined and maintained, but it's not all that cushy, thanks to the climbs into and out of the many arroyos, or desert washes. From Lake Pleasant Drive or Highway 74,… More >>
  • Best Place to Get in Deep Waters

    Phoenix Scuba

    Considering the Valley's largest body of water is the man-made Lake Pleasant, scuba diving in Phoenix sounds sorta stupid. But just because there's nowhere in our great desert metropolis that even vaguely resembles Galapagos, that doesn't mean Phoenicians can't band together, learn how to dive, and then get their scuba on anywhere in the world. And Phoenix Scuba makes it… More >>
  • Best Hike to Petroglyphs

    Hieroglyphic Trail

    Petroglyph hikes are always about the payoff of seeing some great rock art. This spot has not only an entire wall of fantastic, accessible glyphs, but allows you to boulder over ancient Hohokam grain-grinding stones and up to an old cave shelter. Hieroglyphic Trail is a moderately easy 1.5-mile hike up (i.e, three miles round-trip) into the mouth of a… More >>
  • Best Bike Parts

    Unnamed Super-Secret Bike Gang

    No visible tattoos, ironic Western shirts, or chunky-framed nerd glasses here. The three men sitting around Pete's living room are into bikes, but they're not fixie hipsters. Pete and Ed ran rivers long ago. Pete and Jordan met on Craigslist. The three form the nucleus of a loose, off-the-retail-grid network of cycling aficionados in metro Phoenix who buy, sell, and… More >>
  • Best Hike in the Heat

    Brown's Cave at Apache Lake

    Heat exhaustion is never too far away during summer hikes in the Sonoran Desert, but we're not the type to sit at home for five months out of the year. On most local hikes, the only relief from the oven we call the outdoors comes in a bottle (we're talking ice water, not dehydrating booze). But the trek we're here… More >>
  • Best View from the Trail

    Top of the Flatiron on Superstition Mountain

    Like hiking Camelback Mountain? You're going to love the Siphon Draw trail up Superstition Mountain. This trail is like Camelback on steroids and offers a spectacular view from the Flatiron — the high, flat area at its western face. The steep, boulder-strewn trail departing from Lost Dutchman State Park in Apache Junction is a toughie. Though well traveled, this trail… More >>
  • Best Trail That Isn't a Hike

    Wildflower Trail

    We all know it is a good idea to get outside for a hike, especially when the weather in Phoenix is nice. But if you are not a hiker in the rough and rugged sense, then there is a special place for you, too. Feel as though you are hiking in the Sonoran Desert as you stroll through the blooming… More >>
  • Best Underground Arcade


    Okay, so the bottom floor of this longtime videogame palace is, technically, more like a sunken living room than an actual underground arcade. But for generations of gamers, it's also a time machine dressed up in a cheesy castle coating. Sure, there's a sprinkling of high-tech driving and first-person-shooter games, but the reason this place blows Dave & Buster's out… More >>
  • Best Scramble

    The real summit of Piestewa Peak

    Every year, hundreds of thousands of people hike the summit trail of Piestewa Peak in Phoenix — but stop short of the real summit. The vast majority who complete the steep, 1.2-mile Summit Trail turn around after reaching a lesser prominence, located about 30 feet lower. We consider this poor style. What if Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay had stopped… More >>
  • Best Bouldering

    Oak Flat

    For now, a tentative plan is on hold that would turn the legendary Oak Flats area just east of Superior into a $60 billion mining pit the size of Meteor Crater. What does that mean for you? If the weather is anything resembling cool, throw some day-camping gear in the cruiser and get ready to enjoy a rock-climbing picnic. Just… More >>
  • Best Rock Climbing

    Camelback Mountain

    Many climbers write off Camelback as nothing more than a pile of "choss," a.k.a. crumbly crap-rock. Yet it's really stunning how few harnessed adventurers come out to get high (naturally) in the Phoenix park that contains the pyramid-shaped pink mountain and surrounding slice of the Sonoran Desert. Yes, the rock quality, being composed of prehistoric mud, is poorer than the… More >>
  • Best Rock Climbing Gym

    Phoenix Rock Gym

    If you want to develop fingertips that work like steel hooks, there's no better place to do it than at the Phoenix Rock Gym in Tempe. We're ashamed to say that we've occasionally let months go by without a visit, but we've belonged to PRG since it opened in 1992 and we always find our way back. We love the… More >>
  • Best Place to Learn About Backyard Pump Tracks

    Rage Cycles

    Remember when we used to dream about draining the pool so we could drop in on our BMX bike and ride the walls? Now, it's all about carving up the back lawn and creating a miniature single-track trail that winds through the yard complete with banks, berms, and jumps. The trick is riding through the course without making a single… More >>
  • Best Road Bike Ride

    Bartlett Dam Road to Bartlett Lake

    Most cyclists are willing to punish themselves up a climb for the reward of the thrilling descent. The road to Bartlett Lake is just the opposite. Just before Cave Creek Road ends, Bartlett Dam Road cuts through the desert to the east, winding its way 14 miles down to a remote lake fed by the Verde River. The descent is… More >>
  • Best Urban(ish) Bike Ride

    Arizona Canal Path

    In a place filled with oversize pickups and SUVs operated by phone- and makeup-distracted motorists, riding on the Valley's streets can be intimidating. Fortunately for local pedal pushers, the Arizona Canal path between Granada Park (at 20th Street and Lincoln Drive) and 67th Avenue lays out gloriously unthreatened and uninterrupted for nearly 10 miles each way. The path rolls under… More >>
  • Best Mountain Bike Ride

    Fantasy Island North Singletrack

    The Fantasy Island North Singletrack, a.k.a. F.I.N.S., is one of the best E-ticket roller-coaster trails in town, and it is perfect for riders of any skill level. It's actually a trail network that sits on private land and is maintained by locals who have it signed and rated to perfection. The trails essentially circle and ride over two buttes, with… More >>
  • Best Nighttime Mountain Bike Ride

    Papago Park

    No matter how hot it gets, it doesn't feel like summer when we're riding our mountain bike at night around Papago Park. Within minutes of pumping the pedals over the trails, we're covered in sweat from head to toe. And that means wind-chill. Instead of 111, it feels like a gorgeous 85 or so. Papago's trails are conducive to the… More >>
  • Best Place to Ride Your Bike Among Lions, Tigers, and Bears

    Phoenix Zoo

    Our Phoenix Zoo membership has served us well for years, but our visits were becoming less frequent in the past couple of years as the kids grew older. From the exhibits to the splash playground to the carousel, we've been there and done that — a lot. But this year, we decided to take the Phoenix Zoo up on its… More >>
  • Best Haunted House

    13th Floor Haunted House

    We didn't give much credence to the scare factor of a haunted house that's attached to one of those costume stores that pop up right around Halloween — in a vacant strip mall, natch. But after a half-hour at the Haunting, we exited the building feeling as though we'd been through a new and improved Disneyland ride. The sets here… More >>
  • Best Carousel

    Superstition Springs Center

    As far as we're concerned, you can do entirely too many (formerly private) things at the mall these days. Recently, we noticed you can get your eyebrows shaped, your feet massaged, and your ears (or something else) pierced — all at a mall kiosk, while droves of people watch! That's just wrong. But there's one relatively new addition to the… More >>
  • Best Free Place for a Kids' Outdoor Birthday Party

    Scottsdale Civic Center Mall

    Throwing a party on a budget but want a cool location? How about right behind the Scottsdale Civic Center library, a stone's throw from the Scottsdale Center for the Arts and Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art? Grab a spot right by Louise Nevelson's Windows to the West sculpture.This is a no-reservation, first-come, first-squat location. There are some picnic tables, but… More >>
  • Best (Almost) Free Place for a Kids' Indoor Birthday Party

    Michaels Arts and Crafts

    Got a kid on your hands who loves arts and crafts and wants you to play art teacher for their birthday? If you're not up to all that glue and glitter in your house, book a party at your local Michaels Arts and Crafts store. The classroom is totally free for birthdays; you need only buy the craft materials on… More >>
  • Best Place to Rent a Hula Dancer for Your Kid's Birthday Party

    La Fiamma Entertainment

    Are you the kind of person who likes hula girls? How about hula girls at a kids' birthday party? Well, we are — on both counts. Something for Daddy, something for a backyard filled with 20 little girls. And these aren't a bunch of middle-aged white ladies trying to work off unwanted pounds. They are the real thing. The young… More >>
  • Best Place to Hold a Wedding in July

    Inspirador - CLOSED

    Who knew there was a 12,000-square-foot wedding facility in historic downtown Chandler? Located in the town's walking district, this massive — yet, somehow, quaint — facility offers brides a blank canvas to create their dream wedding in an air-conditioned facility that isn't a boring hotel or resort. If you have a theme in mind, this place is perfect, because there… More >>
  • Best Boutique Hotel

    Hotel Valley Ho

    Entirely too often, "boutique hotel" translates to "grungy old hotel with a flimsy new façade and icky rooms." Not at Hotel Valley Ho, built circa 1956, which underwent an extensive top-to-bottom renovation several years ago and emerged smelling like an Icelandic moonflower (really — it's the hotel's "signature scent"). From the lobby entryway to the booths tucked in the back… More >>
  • Best Luxury Hotel

    The Royal Palms

    The lush setting of this boutique resort can make you forget, even if only for a moment, that you are still in Phoenix. The 119-room resort sits against beautiful Camelback Mountain in the shadow of the overly extravagant Phoenician. The laid-back resort and spa is all about luxury and customer service — the staff is noted for being extremely friendly… More >>
  • Best Hotel Pool

    The Clarendon Hotel

    If you're just looking to swim in some treated water, any hotel pool in the Valley will do. But if you're looking for a bona fide swimming experience — complete with multi-sensory special effects — then the Clarendon's pool is the only place to go. This boutique hotel's got the most impressive pool area in town, "The Oasis." In addition… More >>
  • Best Family Staycation

    Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa

    Ron and Nancy Reagan honeymooned there. Irving Berlin wrote "White Christmas" by the pool. John McCain and Sarah Palin chose the Arizona Biltmore as the spot to concede the 2010 presidential race. Now you can stay there, too. No, really. We know what you're thinking: The Biltmore's way too pricey. But come summertime, the place empties out like nobody's business… More >>
  • Best Casino

    Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino

    You could go to any casino to gamble, really — a slot machine's a slot machine, right? That may be true, but Wild Horse Pass offers a lot more than just roulette wheels and card tables. In addition to keeping its slots up to date with the latest models from companies like IGT and Aristocrat, Wild Horse has 25 poker… More >>
  • Best Day Trip

    Jerome, Arizona

    Arizona has many special places, but we hold a special spot for this onetime copper-mining town turned tourist attraction that sits northeast of Prescott up the big hill from the Valley of the Sun. Our favorites in the quaint little town include the Asylum Restaurant, which is perched above the main drag and offers one of the best wine lists… More >>
  • Best Activity for Out-of-Town Guests

    Drive the Apache Trail

    Drive along the Apache Trail to view one of the most scenic drives in the Phoenix area. For your out-of-town guests, this is a snapshot of desert living — without having to get out of the car. This trail offers visitors a view of canyons, geologic formations, desert plants, trees, flowers, the occasional critter, desert, and lake views. If your… More >>
  • Best Lake Camping

    Rim Lakes, Woods Canyon Group Campground

    There are many campgrounds to choose from in Arizona, and there are many lakes, surprisingly. The area of Rim Lakes at Apache Sitgreaves National Forest — Woods Canyon Group Campground specifically — is ideal because it is rustic and wooded. And just through the woods, along a path, is a stocked lake where boats can be rented and campers can… More >>
  • Best Swimming Hole

    Fossil Springs

    Bummed you can't hit Slide Rock State Park because the fecal bacteria counts are too high? Not us. In fact, we won't dip a toe in Sedona's cesspool, even when the rangers say it's okay. Neither should you. Not as long as Arizona still has places like Fossil Springs to enjoy. The swimming hole on Fossil Creek north of Payson… More >>
  • Best Urban Kayaking

    Dobson Ranch

    Metro Phoenix is an urban kayaker's dream — if you don't mind ignoring a few posted signs and are willing to drag your 'yak a couple of yards down to the shore, that is. Case in point, the lakes of Mesa's Dobson Ranch neighborhood. These pretty little canals loop around for several miles, giving pleasant views of nice homes and… More >>
  • Best Place to Swim If You're Training for a Triathlon

    McDowell Mountain Ranch Park and Aquatic Center

    The way we figure it, the water in the small lap pool at our local gym must comprise at least 10 percent sweat. It looks relatively clean and gets the job done — our arms feel like strands of linguine after 70 laps. But who knows what's in that water? And don't get us started on Tempe Town Lake. In… More >>
  • Best Splash Pad

    South bank of Tempe Town Lake

    Once the temperatures zoom above 100 degrees, parents start the summer scramble for what to do with the kids. The Splash Playground at Tempe's Town Lake meets their demand with gusto. The entrance to the playground welcomes with a metal circle of clouds that rains mist onto visitors. Thunder claps and lightning flashes. Waterfalls turn into streams and water rushes… More >>
  • Best Water Park

    Golfland Sunsplash

    Years ago, having a large pool with a wave-maker and a slide or two was good enough to call yourself a "water park." But thanks to establishments like Golfland Sunsplash, modern water parks more resemble amusement parks, with a variety of rides and water slides seemingly engineered by thrill-seeking adrenaline junkies. Sunsplash boasts attractions like the Master Blaster Water Coaster,… More >>
  • Best Skateboard Park

    Desert West Skatepark

    Desert West had a taste of the limelight when its 2011 PhxAM Skateboard Tournament aired on ESPN. But while cameras zoomed in on amateurs and professionals performing kick-ass kick-flips, manuals, and serious airtime, our eyes were stuck on the park's features — more than 25,000 square feet of skateboard-only curbs, bumps, hips, steps, and three full bowls. Sounds sick enough… More >>
  • Best Indoor Skate Park

    Xtreme Air Jump 'N Skate

    Summertime in Phoenix blows chunks, especially if your hobbies include skateboarding, biking — or, hell, any outdoor activity. That's why we love this new skate park, which includes 30,000 square feet of ramps, foam pits, bowl corners, and a coffee shop for sipping lattes after grinding the rails. The 30-foot Velcro wall is a little creepy (though we're betting there's… More >>
  • Best Dog Park, East Valley

    P. Ben Arredondo Sports Complex

    This spot near Warner and Hardy roads was called the Tempe Sports Complex until this year, but our dog doesn't care. What he does know about the excellent dog park located within the 60-acre complex is that the drive takes longer than the trip to our usual park — and that it's worth the wait. The two-acre doggy park, unlike… More >>
  • Best Dog Park, West Valley

    Foothills Park

    Even though they're man's best friends, your fur babies can't survive on human affection alone. When Fido starts to crave a little doggy socialization, bring him to Foothills Dog Park, where he can sniff as many dog butts as his little nose desires. This off-leash grassy zone lets your precious pup romp with other friendly dogs — we've never encountered… More >>
  • Best Playground

    Playtopia at Tumbleweed Park

    Playtopia at Tumbleweed Park in Chandler is a free place for families to romp, featuring a 2.5-acre playground and picnic area. For a good six months out of the year, this is a go-to spot for families looking for a good time. You'll find themed areas throughout, including Farm Land, City Land, and Critter Land. This is also a great… More >>
  • Best Place to Jump Up and Down

    Jumpstreet Indoor Trampoline Park

    You know what's bullshit? Walking. Of all the evolutionary traits that could be insanely better, bipedal motion is right at the top of our list. That's why we literally jumped for joy when we stumbled upon Jumpstreet, an indoor trampoline park in Chandler. We're going to repeat that: an indoor trampoline park. Here, the limbs you once used merely as… More >>
  • Best Place to Tag Someone with a Rubber Ball

    AZ Dodgeball League

    Hearing the word "dodgeball" may awaken nostalgic memories of the game played during recess in grade school. Well, recess is over, punk. The AZ Dodgeball League made sure of that. As part of the league, you can join up with ball-throwing maniacs just like you (on teams with names like "Ninja Please" and "Two in the Pink"). League play goes… More >>
  • Best Public Lifelong Game You've Never Heard Of


    The rules of Birdman are simple. First, make the "okay" sign with your index fingers and thumbs. Rotate your wrists outward and flip these rings over your eyes. These are your "goggles." If, while wearing your goggles, you make eye contact with a participating Birdman player (after they've agreed to play with a handshake) he or she must immediately lie… More >>
  • Best Way to Compete While in Costume

    Urban Dare

    If you happen to see a family of four dressed as video game characters or superheroes running down the sidewalks of Mill Avenue in Tempe, don't panic. The Arizona heat hasn't finally gotten to you. They likely are part of one of the off-kilter Urban Dare adventure races. Inspired by such reality TV competitions as The Amazing Race and offering… More >>
  • Best Bowling

    Let It Roll Bowl

    This still-charming, vaguely futuristic building was designed in 1960 by Ralph Haver-influenced Pierson Miller Ware and Associates, a well-regarded architecture firm. It opened in 1962 with 32 lanes and a coffee shop that served a heaping plate of biscuits and gravy for 35 cents and packed in a crowd for the Friday-night fish fry. The former Northgate Bowl (which became… More >>
  • Best Go-Kart Racing

    K1 Speed

    When local off-road racer "Pistol" Pete Sohren closed his Speedway indoor kart-racing business, Valley go-kart enthusiasts weren't left with many options — that is, until national chain K1 Speed opened a Phoenix location in the old Speedway building. Visitors can now enjoy all the medium-octane (45 miles per hour, max) excitement of whizzing around an indoor track on a go-kart… More >>
  • Best Place to Go Quadding

    Harquahala Mountain Summit Road

    This rugged road provides a challenge for quad riders and other off-highway vehicle enthusiasts, and it offers breathtaking views and a chance to discover remnants of Arizona's mining days. You can explore the area and see the stone houses occupied by early miners. Take I-10 west to the Salome Road exit and turn right. Turn right again on Eagle Eye… More >>
  • Best Off-Road Drive

    Table Mesa Road, from Interstate 17 to Seven Springs Road

    "I wish I was at the mall," our wife muttered as the Jeep tilted sideways, the doorless passenger's side showing nothing but rocks and earth. The nod to our studly 4x4-ing didn't go unappreciated, and we assured her the vehicle was far from tipping over. This was just one of several times she expressed regret for signing up for this… More >>
  • Best Sunset Drive

    South Mountain

    After a hectic day, there are many surefire ways to escape from reality. Some are expensive. Others are illegal. Luckily, viewing the sunset at South Mountain is a free antidote to calm your weary mind without any side effects. Head up to Dobbins Point at dusk and take it slow as you drive up the windy, meandering Summit Road. We… More >>
  • Best Golf Course

    We-Ko-Pa's Cholla Course

    We-Ko-Pa's Cholla course is not for your twice-a-year golfer — it's a beast. In other words, if you're not in the fairway, you're screwed — and that's what makes it awesome. By the end of your round, you'll either swear off golf forever or think you're ready for the PGA Tour. The course has become the standard for desert golf… More >>
  • Best Summer Golf Course

    The Phoenician

    The only good thing about 120-degree heat is that the snowbirds who invade the Valley every winter can't bear the hellish temps and retreat to the comforts of their hometowns. This means Valley golf courses rely on the business of people who actually live here but aren't willing to drop nearly $200 on a round of golf. The Phoenician is… More >>
  • Best Winter Golf Course

    Ken McDonald Golf Course

    It's hard to improve upon perfection — especially when perfection comes cheap. However, Ken McDonald Golf Course, the 2010 winner of New Times' Best Winter Golf Course, has managed to make the course even better than it was last year — including elongating its 11th hole. The par-72 championship course got brand-new carts last year, is scenic, always in great… More >>
  • Best Golf Course Face Lift

    Vistal Golf Club

    We stood on the tee of the par-3 eighth hole, nestled in a box canyon on the base of South Mountain. We saw rocks to the left of a sloping green, a large sand trap guarding the front, and nothing but nastiness to the right. A thing of beauty, in other words. If we turned to look north, the skyline… More >>
  • Best Golf Course at Which to Get Mauled by a Mountain Lion

    Desert Mountain Golf Club's Cochise Course

    Desert Mountain Golf Club's Cochise Course prides itself on its signature holes: "four of the finest risk/reward par-5s to be found anywhere." The reward could be a shot at par. The risk could be getting mauled by a mountain lion. In March, a couple walking near the course spotted several mountain lions on a 546-yard par 5. Risking your life… More >>
  • Best Batting Cages

    Kiwanis Park Batting Range

    Most outdoor batting cages suffer from the wear and tear of AZ summers, with ratty nets and sun-cracked equipment. And it's more than likely that the machines haven't been calibrated in years, resulting in more junk than strikes down the middle. Kiwanis Park is a rare exception, a batting range tended with loving care, thanks to the city of Tempe.… More >>
  • Best Place to See a Spring Training Game

    Salt River Fields

    Call us softies, but we were kinda sad to see Tucson lose its last two Cactus League teams. With the desertion of the Colorado Rockies and our hometown Arizona Diamondbacks before the 2011 spring training season, that city down south is now totally shut out of the fun. The consolidation of the Cactus League to the Valley seems especially silly… More >>
  • Best Way to See Women Play Football

    Arizona Assassins

    If the Arizona Cardinals ever decide to give up the ghost on hapless quarterback Derek Anderson, they might wanna consider giving local footballer Angel D'Rossi a call. Especially since the Arizona Assassins' captain tosses an average of 197 yards per game and completes passes 54 percent of the time, which are both better than Anderson. Unlike the Cardinals' QB, D'Rossi… More >>
  • Best College Athlete

    Dallas Escobedo

    We first took notice of this wonderfully named superstar in the making in high school, when she toiled as a four-year varsity star for Phoenix St. Mary's. Even as a lanky 15-year-old, Dallas exuded joy on the pitcher's mound and possessed a great big heart. When she enrolled at Arizona State last fall, we knew she would be an immediate… More >>
  • Best Male Pro Athlete

    Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals

    We predicted that wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald wouldn't have the big numbers he had during the Kurt Warner era of Arizona Cardinals football, and we were correct. Without a good quarterback, a wide-out doesn't get many quality touches. That is, last year's pathetic crop of Cards QBs couldn't throw the pigskin into Town Lake. Nevertheless. Fitzgerald still is the best… More >>
  • Best Female Pro Athlete

    Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury

    If Diana Taurasi were a man, she would be as rich as Kobe Bryant. Almost. And rivaling him for best player in the NBA. Almost. As it is, she is the best female basketball player in the world and makes about $100,000 a year playing for the Phoenix Mercury (plus a reported $500,000 annually playing in Europe during the WNBA's… More >>
  • Best Way to Ruin a Perfectly Decent Team

    Robert Sarver, Phoenix Suns owner

    For a few delightful, if delusional years, some of us thought that the Phoenix Suns might become the Los Angeles Lakers or the San Antonio Spurs, a team that annually competed for, or actually won, an NBA championship. At one point, the franchise had one of the all-time great point guards (Steve Nash), a pure athlete with incredible offensive skills… More >>
  • Best-Hitting Pitcher in the Bigs

    Daniel Hudson, Arizona Diamondbacks

    We were at Chase Field in July when starting pitcher Daniel Hudson hit his first big-league home run, and the Diamondbacks went on to take a series against the hated Los Angeles Dodgers, two games to one. And it was all Hudson, almost all the time, that day; he not only pitched a one-run, five-hit complete game, he drove in… More >>
  • Best Comeback Kid in Baseball

    Chris Young, Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder

    Remember when crucifix-sucking Chris Young sucked? When the center fielder (who likes to taste his silver necklace during games) was sent down to the minors for a stint because he couldn't buy a hit. Yes, his M.O. was to pop out to an infielder in 2009, when he cooled his heels with the Reno Aces for three weeks. His batting… More >>
  • Best Reason to Believe the Diamondbacks Can Contend

    Ian Kennedy, Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher

    "I wanted to act like I belong here. It's a dream come true. You see the stadium on TV, and you wish and hope you'll be out there like those guys." This is what Ian Kennedy was quoted as saying before his first start with the New York Yankees in 2007. And he acquitted himself well in that first major-league… More >>
  • Best Field Boss of a Local Sports Franchise

    Kirk Gibson, Arizona Diamondbacks manager

    The fact that the Arizona Diamondbacks have clinched the National League West lands squarely on the broad shoulders of manager Kirk Gibson, the guy who (with a two-day growth of beard) looks like he could chew nails. But what we hear he's done is chew players' asses. That is, he won't accept mediocrity. And what he has done with a… More >>
  • Best Baseball Star

    Justin Upton, Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder

    Justin Upton made his second All-Star team appearance this year, just as we predicted he would. All it took was playing on a better team than the miserable Snakes squad of last year, when Upton missed the mid-summer classic after having made it in 2009. Upton's young (24 this season), and the desperation of playing on a last-place team got… More >>
  • Best-Hitting Second Baseman in Baseball

    Dustin Pedroia, ASU alumnus and current Red Sox

    Dustin Pedroia is a phenom with a .303 batting average going on six seasons with the Boston Red Sox. He's the best hitter to come out of Arizona State University since Barry Bonds. Better than Bonds when you look at his average and worth to his team — and there's no doubt that the 5-foot-9, 180-pounder never has done steroids.… More >>
  • Best All-Around Baseball Player

    Miguel Montero, Arizona Diamondbacks catcher

    Miguel Montero is the most fundamentally sound player on the Arizona Diamondbacks' roster. Because of injuries to other players around the National League, he was an All-Star this year, but he deserved it. How many times have we seen the guy get a clutch hit for the D-Backs through his five full seasons with the team? That was a rhetorical… More >>
  • Best Glove Man in Valley Baseball

    Stephen Drew, Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop

    Stephen Drew went out for the season with a gruesome broken ankle (his toes were pointed backward) after sliding into home plate in a July 20 game against the Milwaukee Brewers. Drew's a good hitter for his position, with a lifetime .270 batting average, and a guy who can hit for power. He's slammed 70 home runs in six seasons… More >>
  • Best Tattoos in Local Sports

    Ryan Roberts, Arizona Diamondbacks infielder

    Ryan Roberts is a hustler who makes his teammates better. His manager, Kirk Gibson, calls him a "gamer," which, coming from the ultimate gamer, is a huge compliment. Finally a starter at third base this season (he's adept at all infield and outfield positions), he hit 13 home runs and batted a respectable .245. But what we want to talk… More >>
  • Best General in Local Sports

    Kevin Towers, Arizona Diamondbacks

    There was a different vibe in the Arizona Diamondbacks' clubhouse this season, and it's because of new GM Kevin Towers. The former San Diego Padres GM, who finished his first regular season with the Diamondbacks, has put people in place — manager Kirk Gibson, along with clubhouse leaders like veteran pitcher Joe Saunders — who have turned things around for… More >>
  • Best Hope for the Arizona Cardinals

    Kevin Kolb, quarterback

    Kevin Kolb is the great hope of the Arizona Cardinals. After struggling last season with a trio of inept quarterbacks, the Cardinals dished out big bucks — a $63 million ($23 million guaranteed), five-year contract — and traded away their best cornerback, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and a second-round draft choice to the Philadelphia Eagles for a guy they hope can bring… More >>
  • Best Monsters in Local Sports

    Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett, Arizona Cardinals defensive linemen

    Calias Campbell is inspirational. He's a leader on the field from his defensive end position and a monster, even by NFL standards. Campbell stands 6-foot-8, weighs at least 300 pounds, and is the most intimidating player on the Cardinals' defensive line. Which is saying a lot, since the fearsome 6-foot-4, 290-pound Darnell Dockett, also a team leader on defense, plays… More >>
  • Best Stoic in Local Sports

    Ken Whisenhunt, Arizona Cardinals head coach

    What's he thinking? What does he mean when he says that? What was "that look" about? Is he smiling? Is he frowning? Inscrutable is what Cardinals Coach Ken Whisenhunt is. He's a guy who wouldn't need to wear a hat and sunglasses to be a poker champion. Coach, why even hold the clipboard in front of your face when you… More >>
  • Best Sports Clown

    Deuce Lutui

    Taitusi "Deuce" Latui was involved in the most-publicized gaffe in local sports last football season, when he was seen joking around with then-Cardinals starting quarterback Derek Anderson. Because Anderson was clowning during a blowout loss to the San Francisco 49ers, fans and sportscasters took exception, and Anderson — who was supposed to be the answer to the Cardinals' QB woes… More >>
  • Best DUI in Local Sports

    Mark Grace

    And we mean this in a good way. We love Mark Grace, one of the nicest guys in local sports. The man never has been an asshole to the media, like a lot of professional athletes in this town (initials: Randy Johnson). He's always humble, grateful for his opportunity to play major-league baseball, first for the Chicago Cubs but especially… More >>
  • Best Giant in Valley Basketball

    Marcin Gortat, Phoenix Suns

    Marcin Gortat's known in the NBA as "The Polish Hammer." From the looks of him, he's a goon you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley. At 6-feet-11 and 240 pounds, he's scary-ugly, a guy who has terrified opponents of the Phoenix Suns since his arrival last December from the Orlando Magic. When the trade for him and two… More >>
  • Best Local Boy Does Good in Pro Sports

    Andre Ethier, Los Angeles Dodgers

    We hate to give a Los Angeles Dodger props, but we have adjusted our rule for right fielder Andre Ethier, a hometown hero if there ever was one. Phoenix native Ethier first gained fame at Chandler-Gilbert Community College, where he batted .468 with 32 doubles and was named MVP. He then played at Arizona State University, where he batted .371… More >>
  • Best Local Guy Does Bad in Pro Sports

    Channing Frye, Phoenix Suns

    Why isn't St. Mary's High School and University of Arizona product Channing Frye a tougher professional basketball player? He seems to have all the tools, but . . . Oh, we know what you're thinking: He's a hell of a three-point shooter (.403 career). Well, to hell with that! Frye's a muscular 7-footer who plays like a point guard —… More >>
  • Best Cheerleader in Local Sports

    Alvin Gentry, Phoenix Suns

    Alvin Gentry hardly is pretty enough to be a Phoenix Suns dancer — the closest thing to a cheerleader for the professional basketball team. But the slow-talking Suns coach (he's from Shelby, North Carolina, and played basketball at Appalachian State University) is the best motivator in the huddle we've ever heard. No matter how bad it gets, Gentry is upbeat:… More >>
  • Best Elder Statesmen in the NBA

    Steve Nash and Grant Hill, Phoenix Suns

    Steve Nash and Grant Hill are the nicest guys in the NBA. Practically saints. The charity work both do boggles the imagination. And they continue to out-perform all but a few NBA stars. In Nash's case, he's a former superstar who's still an aging star. At the beginning of his career in Detroit, Hill was predicted to become the next… More >>

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